Friday, November 24, 2017


I binge-watched: 10 episodes in 5 hours of Director Spike Lee's new Netflix series SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT where Lee attempts to address the Brooklyn of today in contrast to the original Brooklyn that he filmed in 1986 - 31 years ago. We see how much has changed in the Borough, impacting the local populace both optically and financially. White people have taken over brownstones in the neighborhoods - buying up properties which then propel shops and cafe's to dot the streets serving their needs. Gentrification is addressed in the film loud and clear.

The SHE is a young "struggling" artist, Nola Darling who is strikingly beautiful and seemingly self-confident, but defensively so - a woman who has no trouble juggling three lovers. I kept thinking that Spike Lee was desperately searching for sub-plots to keep this particular story-line going beyond a woman's insatiable sexual appetite, reversing how men behave toward women, but even that can get boring. Yes, women, today are free to treat the other sex like objects for gratification and temporary fulfillment - which seemed to be the in-your-face message. So to fill the gap there is lip service paid to almost every social issue affecting the community, except the opioid crisis - the ever-present weed (or the many names that it goes by) is now taken for granted and socially (if not legally) acceptable. I did rejoice in the fact that Nola took her art seriously, and spent a lot of time making it, not allowing her "suitors" to be a distraction.

Visually Lee does some "cool" things in SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT such as:
Filming a love poem to Brooklyn, NYC

Focusing on the sensuality of black women annexing all the senses including smell, taste, and touch.

Introducing pop up stills of the musicians and artists, and writers Lee admires which flash on the screen unexpectedly.

Referencing the November 2016 Presidential election with a powerful visual diatribe against newly elected Donald Trump.

And Lee's paen to the death of multitudes of historically distinguished black artists/writers/musicians/leaders is beautifully and simply done - with an image of a rose.

Those are the precious moments when the series moves us.

It is the characters themselves, particularly the three chosen men that are cardboard cut-outs; often defining a distinctive trait and representative of a specific class structure whose humanity has been veneered by caricature. One of the few exceptions is a homeless Afghanistan veteran, Papo da Mayor played by Elvis Nolasco, who is never without a cart brimming with "the detritus of the street - (garbage to most) which he transforms into art. Whenever he appears, his genuineness shines a light on the moral emptiness of the other characters.There is also Nola's mother (acted by Joie Lee,) who has acquired some wisdom and acts like someone you would want to know better and spend time with - a person who has been enriched by life experiences. She is no fool.

Spike Lee is trying to "do the right thing" by women and in the credits many of the writers are women - but most of the male characters cannot be penetrated - no pun intended.
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